A Poem of St. Ambrose

Given that today is the Feast of St. Ambrose of Milan (Saint of the Week here), a man whose hymnody we have discussed in the past, here is a Christmassy/Advently hymn for your enjoyment. The translation is mine, based on the text of Early Latin Hymns (ed. A. S. Walpole for Cambridge Patristic Texts, 1922: pp. 35-39).

It is known by first line as ‘Splendor Paternae Gloriae’:

Splendour of the Father’s glory,
bringing forth light from light,
light of light and source of brightness,
the brightening day of days,

and true Sun slide in,
gleaming with eternal brilliance,
and radiance of the Holy Spirit
pour into our senses.


With prayers let us also call the Father—
the Father of eternal glory,
the Father of mighty grace—
that he may remove the deceitful blame,

that he may shape our actions of vigour,
dullen the teeth of the grudging one,
favourably guide harsh occurrences,
bestow the grace of carrying things through,

guide the mind and rule it
with a chaste, faithful body;
may faith be inflamed with heat,
may it not know the poisons of fraud.

And may Christ be food for us,
and may faith be our drink;
happy, may we drink the sober
inebriation of the Spirit.

May this happy day come to pass,
may modesty exist as the dawn,
faith like the noonday,
and may the mind not know the dusk.

Dawn pulls the chariot,
may the complete dawn come,
the Son complete in the Father,
and the Father complete in the Word.


3 thoughts on “A Poem of St. Ambrose

    • We use purple because purple is traditional and what I grew up with. I’m actually opposed to the relatively recent switch to blue in many churches because it destroys the connection between Advent and Lent — both are seasons and waiting, expectation, and preparation. Advent for so many is just an extra-long mini-Christmas, so I think that drawing connections between Advent and the rest of the Church Year and avoiding too many Christmassy things (like actual Christmas carols) and so forth to be good ideas in this season.

      • We use purple as well, and I wish more churches would “stick to their guns” on this point. I think far too many are trying to emphasize “celebration” instead of the repentance and preparation you allude to.

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